Monday, April 30, 2007
These guys are good, but are they scary good?
Other thoughts and observations after two:
1. Can we get a little hate on here? There was the Gomez/Neil tussle and more sticks applied to wrists than a boarding school. That's it. What would it take to make me really angry at these terribly plain fellows in the Jersey locker room? Sample coach quotes (from Stevenson):
"Senators coach Bryan Murray said he's happy with the matchups in the Eastern Conference semi-final.
Devils coach and GM Lou Lamoriello said he doesn't see the matchups as anything "major.""
Where is Pat Quinn when you need him?
2. Who cares about 0-8, we're now 3-1 against the Devils in playoff OT's.
3. When has that point been reached when you can officially declare yourself fond of a particular player, having traveled the long road up from say, contemptuous and indifferent? Probably at the moment you can forgive him for a gaffe caused by his style of play. Joe Corvo can be shades of mid eighties Paul Coffey on one shift and mid nineties Larry Murphy on another. From handling the puck as though under duress in the dark days of November to fist-pumping post-season action hero. I'm actually willing to forgive a pinch gone bad.
4. Unsolved mysteries file: why is it that Mike Fisher can bring such a tremendous impact in select regular season games, but has rarely taken control of a playoff game? That whole line is quite enigmatic lately (suddenly, in the case of Mike Comrie) - other than seeing them skulking off to the penalty box, we haven't seen much energy from them at all.
5. The self-applied underdog label fell off around Game 3 and since then, everyone's been picking the Sens. If the captain - whose quiet professionalism results is a far better fit for him than stick-throwing taunts, boilerplate press clips and bold playoff guarantees - continues in such fine form, the Senators may just, for once make relatively easy work of a challenging opponent.
I'll shadow master prognosticator 'Duff' in the comments with a decisive 5-2 Ottawa victory (even though Emery will let in the first shot). Open thread for game comments.
Battle for the CupHe's looking for contributors.
In the tradition of well established blogs dedicated to regional rivalries, the Battle for the Cup blog presents an opportunity for Battle Bloggers to meet browser-to-browser with fans of new rivals from each round of the NHL's stanley cup playoffs.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Who Was That Masked Man?
That 0-8 statistic will be the rage of every article today even though the fact that the sens are 4-3 so far in those series will get a lot less play.
Praise (Alfie), scorn (Corvo), and laments (45 shots and 2 goals) in the comments.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Sympathy for the Devil?
Perhaps the impact Brodeur will have in this series has been grossly miscalculated. While claiming three Cup rings and victories on the global stage, he now has a 6-8 record against the Senators in post-season play. And he is showing some serious flaws. He looked extremely un-Brodeur-like on the sharp-angled goals by Tampa's Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis in Round 1. And his play against the Senators in th series opener -- despite all the clips and quotes you heard and read -- was certainly far from great. Great goalies don't allow bad goals in big games. Great goalies have great glove hands ... they certainly don't get beat on the trapper side five times in one night.
Well, I'm certainly not banking on that kind of sloppiness to let us slip through to the finals. No need for sympathy here. He's going to be solid tonight and so will the Jersey team defence.
I think the Sens drop this one, grab two at home before splitting the last two games. Picks, pans and f--k you's, leave 'em as you see fit in the game day thread.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Playoff Memories IX: Eighth Time's the Charm
For today's flashback we go back two weeks to the last time the sens had a chance to pick up a 2-0 lead. Like last year's first round they faced a clearly overmatched opponent, on home ice no less, and still couldn't notch the two goal lead. They even managed to sow the seeds of doubt by coughing up a pair of leads in the third. Will history repeat itself?
The Jersey forwards aren't like Crosby, Malkin, and Roberts. Gomez, Parise, and Gionta are going to come through the neutral zone with more speed and I think you saw in game 1 that the quicker defencemen like Redden, Meszaros, and Preissing will be more effective against them than Phillichenkov.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
The countdown returns!
Game Day: Runnin' With Tha Devils
Open thread for game analysis, hepatitis treatment options and emitting your best David Lee Roth howl.
I just checked out Ticketmaster and you can grab a pair in any section still. Terrible.
The View From The Swamp
Kovy274Hart at the Battle of NY is not feeling too confident. He has a comprehensive preview of the series but he comes to the absolutely wrong conclusion:
Ottawa in six because this team is extremely focused and way overdue on delivering a big playoff run for Canada. They’re the best team we’ve seen so far in this ournament.Meanwhile, Patricia Greuter at 2 Man Advantage wants to be friends,
So, the boys have Ottawa for Round 2 and it’s going to be one tough series, fo’ sho’. I’m kind of wishing for Jeff Friesen, but we’ll make do with what we have. I’m sure Zach has quite a few more tricks up his sleeve, and I’m seriously hoping for a repeat performance of Game 6 from Scott Gomez all series long. I can dream, right? Hey Ottawa blogs — don’t be strangers! We’ve met some great bloggers on Tampa’s side of the coin, and we’d love to hear from you Ottawa folk as well. Oh, and good luck to the Sens! You shall hear no predictions from me!I'm sorry but that's not going to fly here at hte BoO land of divisive and insane comments so here is what she meant to write if her preview had not been erased:
The senasnores have no chance. Did you see them try to copy the Devils with their commitment to defence in the first round? Sorry ladies but we invented that game. Their top line of Alfredsson-Spezza-Heatley barely produced at even strength and they weren't even facing a shutdown machine like Madden-Pandolfo-Brylin. What about the powerplay? Sorry, we were the least penalized team in the NHL and our GM is called The Godfather. Don't count on any penalties geing called. Think Comrie is going to pick it up? No dice. Ask Oiler fans about how he plays when the going gets tough. And in net? Yeah, that is a bit of a mismatch. Emery made 1 save on 4 OT shots in three games last year against the Sabres and he was facing a fellow rookie. He's lining up against the greatest goalie of all time. Think he'll be nervous? A wee bit. Redden is probably having nightmares about ending up with EGG all over his face (Elias-Gionta-Gomez). Devils in 6 and only because we'll gift them two games so that the layoff isn't too long between series.There, that is more like it. This prediction is from Mr Frisby at Frozen Fiend. He is blogging from Kentucky so let's be glad that it's not written in crayon and taped to a computer screen or we wouldn't be able to read it. (I keed!)
New Jersey Devils vs Ottawa Senators - These are not the same teams that played against each other in 2003 so let's stop talking about that, mmmkay? The Sens slaughtered the Devils 8-1 early in the season but the Devils were able to win the other three games despite injuries to key players. The EGG line seems to have returned to form and so has Broduer. The Sens proved they know how to defend by eliminating the young stars on the Penguins in five games so they will make it difficult on Gomez and Parise. Devils in 6.The only part I disagree with is that these are not the same teams from 2003. They are, the sens will still blow in the playoffs and Brodeur might as well be a brick wall. And finally, Jean-Pierre Allard at the Most Valuable Network thinks that the sens are in for a rude awakening,
Not to disrespect the Penguins, but Ottawa is about to soon join this year’s playoffs, albeit one round en retard.Wait, he's the sens' blogger? Wow, talk about not needing enemies with friends like those!
In all seriousness (because some of that was sarcastic), I'd like to be able to get a set of Devils' bloggers for every to check out during this series but I am too lazy to keep searching them out so when you guys (Devils' bloggers) come to the website for Ontario-based teams, leave your homepage please.
Elias missed his second straight practice with a cold Wednesday, sparking concern that the left wing on the Devils' top line might not be available for Game 1 in New Jersey on Thursday night.That's some cold.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Behind The Mask
As the Devils are the least penalized team in the NHL the sens won't be able to count on the man advantage to fuel Spezza and Heatley's offence (someone told me that he is the first player in NHL history to have his first 5 playoff goals come via the PP can anyone confirm that?). And once they get past the vaunted Devils defence they won't find a 22 year old kid making his playoff debut. They'll run into one of the most decorated goalies in hockey history. The sens will need their secondary scoring to keep contributing because Madden-Pandolfo-Brylin will probably do a good job of shutting down the Pizza Line. If the sens lose it will likely be because the greatest goalie in hockey history will have shut them down. Here's a preview of what your nightmares will resemble:
Playoff Memories VIII: Close but No Cigar
For those of you not familiar with the Sports Guy's scale, here is the part of the Guillotine Loss that applies to the senators:
your team's hanging tough (hell, they might even be winning), but you can feel the inevitable breakdown coming, and you keep waiting for the guillotine to drop, and you just know it's coming -- you know it -- and when it finally comes, you're angry that it happened and you're angry at yourself for contributing to the debilitating karma.And in the end, it was pure bliss to see the blade finally fall. Go Devils!
"Do you remember them?"
On the Simmons Scale of losing, I'd put that Game 7 at about a Level III: Guillotine (the Stomach Punch is reserved for Patrick Lalime circa April 2004). All I really remember after the game was passing out on the couch in my beer-soiled Sens practice jersey (I had "choker" stenciled on the back from years past, but duct-taped over it in the spirit of the day), going down hard to the mat clutching a replica of Lord Stanley's mug that had been tacked together from assorted pots and pans. I'm sure somebody out there still has the pictures.
OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators announced today they will host their second Be Red Car Rally on Wednesday, April 25. Spartacat, the Senators’ ambassador of fun, along with Stuntman Stu from the Team 1200’s Three Guys On The Radio morning show will lead the rally, which will start at Scotiabank Place at 11:30 a.m.
A convoy of cars will travel from Scotiabank Place to the CHUM Market Media Mall in the Byward Market, where there will be a street hockey game on York street, called by the Team 1200’s Steve Warne and Stuntman Stu, and Kurt Stoodley from A-Channel.
Sens fans are asked to decorate cars, fly car flags and dress up in Senators gear. The top 40 decorated cars, as determined by a panel of judges, will be given a spot in the convoy and guaranteed a parking spot in the Byward Market. (York street, between Dalhousie and William streets, will be closed off to the public for this event.) Priority placement in the convoy will be given to vehicles that are decorated.
The top three decorated cars will win one of three pairs of tickets to the Senators’ second home game of the second round of the 2007 playoffs.
Where: Scotiabank Place, Parking Lot 6, Frank Finnigan Way
When: Wednesday, April 25. Participants are asked to arrive by 10:30 a.m.
Timeline: Leave Scotiabank Place at 11:30 a.m.; arrive at York street by noon. Street hockey game begins at 12:15 p.m.
Note: No official convoy will travel back to Scotiabank Place.
*Prizing and participants will be determined by the judges at their sole discretion. The decisions of the judges shall be final and binding, and may not be challenged in any way. Limited spots available. The rain date for the Be Red car rally is Thursday, April 26.
- end -
WGR550 in Buffalo created Renney and Czechs. Weak. They started in the first round with a brutal Proclaimers takeoff. God, Buffalo sucks.
Any other ones out there?
You suck Brodeur!
And a Hinterland's Who's Who here. I'm not embedding the video here because I can't endorse a video that makes fun of Bon Jovi.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Round 2 Predictions
1. Don 8 games off
1. Indrew 8 games off
3. Adam 9 games off
3. Five-O 9 games off
I don't win the trophy shown to the left.
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Monday, April 23, 2007
Everybody needs to just sit down, relax and spark one up
Check out Canuck-Land for the latest nerve-wracked synopsis from Dr. C. We will see in a matter of hours (and hours and hours depending on whether either of these teams feel like scoring a goal) if the Curse of Bert holds up.
First Round Festivus
Since we've got until Thursday at the earliest, why not take this opportunity provided by the Sens unexpectedly early dispatch of the Penguins for the airing of grievances? No need to be unduly harsh, just things that are going to have to be cleaned up for a successful second round.
I'll start by echoing some of Conrad's thoughts below:
I don't know how I feel about Heatley being so blase about not scoring much. On one hand he's got a good sense of perspective, e.g. "I'm getting my chances, they'll go in eventually" instead of despairing. On the other hand, this guy has got to start scoring if we're gonne get past the second round.
In general, I think Heatley is going to have to be much, much better, as in Jagr better to carry the required offensive load. He's tentatively confirmed an Ottawa victory in the Heatley-Hossa deal, but only because the latter went out without even a slight impact on a ridiculously quick series.
I know someone says this every year, but I've been watching Sens hockey for a few years now and this team really does feel different. This is the first and only time I've watched a Sens team out-muscle and out-hit another team in a balanced way. They'd sometimes come out against the Leafs and run everybody, and still give up the first goal. Last year the Sens had an All Star team - tons of individual talent, but they didn't play together. That doesn't seem to be the case now.
A question asked was how the Sens fans attitudes have changed compared to last year. Were we nearly as fired up after knocking off Tampa? As my post "act like ya been there before" implied, I certainly wasn't planning any parades and a quick check of the media archives suggest there was no where near the kind of plaudits heaped on the team that we are reading lately. IIRC, the focus then was on Alfie's lack of output (he was stuck on the third line and looked lost), Volchenkov's giveaways [!], Chara's performance on 2 on 1's and their good fortune at having some pitiful goaltending to pick apart. Add in the ghost of Hasek still haunting the dressing room and I don't think anyone was particularly cocky going up against the Sabres.
McAmmond was a great signing at less than a mil. I hope he's back next year.
Finding the perfect million dollar player to add to your roster may turn out to be the key to success in the cap era. Look at how many multi-million dollar salaries were sent packing after the first round. Tkachuk, Forsberg, Smyth. Can our million dollar guys (Vermette, Neil, McAmmond) outplay the Devils million dollar guys (Zajac, Pandolfo, Parise)?
I wouldn't mind them trading Redden to Edmonton for Torres, some picks or just for the cap room. He was terrible last night, and it was the game where a lot of people saw "improvement." He's just nowhere these days.
Despite being second ranked after round one, the PP always seems to need improvement (particularly the 5 on 3s) and I think a lot of the responsibility for getting it rolling and keeping it rolling will fall on Redden. More importantly for the second defensive pairing, at even strength they are going to handle a hell of a lot more pressure than they faced with Pittsburgh. I couldn't understand why Therrien keep bunching Malkin and Crosby together against Philchenkov when many more opportunities could avail themselves when Redden and Meszaros were out there. Speaking of special teams, the Devils are in close proximity (ranked immediately behind the Sens after round one) and seem to have a knack for flipping a switch and scoring clutch goals when needed. In another surprise, our first round PK is 9th, with the Devils right behind. In the regular season the Senators had the better PP (though neither team's was that great) and a worse PK than the Devils.
Here are the lines you need to counter (estimated from the shift charts for the last game against Tampa):
Elias / Gomez / Gionta
Parise / Zajac / Langenbrunner
Pandolfo / Madden / Brylin
Line 2 just slapped the Sens around this year. 4A for Zajac; 2G, 3A for Parise and 2G, 2A for Langenbrunner. Did I mention Redden and Mesjaros are going to have their work cut out for them? Since the Devils feast on turnovers, Corvo's bravery in the offensive zone could become a liability once again.
Another possible concern is the Senators top line being contained. Five games together would have been an exceedingly long stretch during the regular season and it remains to be seen whether they'll stick together for a deep playoff run. Any lack of production could trigger one of Coach Murray's trademark line shuffles. While Alfie can boost the performance of any line, a struggling Heatley or Spezza are going to need more than an unconcussed Patrick Eaves to get them going again.
The biggest upside in my opinion? The Devils just dispensed with an exhausted three man band that somehow managed to steal a couple of games from them. The Sens are miles deeper than Tampa and have far better goaltending. Brodeur is damn good, but not scary good. He is beatable and the Devils, despite a very similar year-to-year roster (with all those cup rings) seem to either roll to the final or drop out quietly in round 1 or 2. The latter sounds like a plausible option to me.
UPDATE: A take from the Battle of NY here.
"The Wings couldn't have beat you any worse if you were wearing a leash and forgot your safe word"
Is it just me, or does the smack in Battle comment sections (Ontario and Alberta) get taken to a whole new level of awesomeness when the two combatants find themselves on either side of the 8th place cutoff line? Fans always seem to bring their A-game when cheering against their most hated opponent.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
His Left Foot
Apparently the Sens can only take some of the credit in shutting down Sid the Kid.
Turns out he's had a broken foot since before the playoffs started. It also means he won't be joining Staal at the Worlds. Here's the story.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Around the horn
The Pens get their last chance.
Whitney carries it up on a 3-on-2.
Malkin one-time slapper.
Black Jesus makes the glove save.
Should we recap David Johnson's prediction?
Yes, we want the Rangers!
Last word to Gary:
''They've been through it before and they know what it takes now,'' said Roberts. ''They definitely played the best hockey I've seen them play in years.''
Playoff Memories VII: Game 5
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Countdown time again
Bring The Noise
Lines are open for venting.
(special game day pump up music: Public Enemy feat. Anthrax - headbangerz only)
Look Out NBA
Thanks to Sens Army (more like a infantry unit than an army but that's just splitting hairs) for the find and take Jay's warning very, very seriously. My bladder exploded from the pressure at about the 0:52 mark.
Am I allowed to start a Ray-zor chant after the bet?
It's a beautiful day here in Ottawa.
Actually... Its too damn hot for a penguin to just be walkin around! I gotta get them back to the zoo! (I wanted to use that line but just couldn't work it in any better - sorry)
Pride Goeth Before A Fall
"The senators are primed to win the Cup"? It's the first round and it's not over yet. Not to mention that they have won in the first round before. That's not usually the one that gives them trouble (unless it's the Leafs or Sabres). They tend to start gripping their sticks too tight and making mental mistakes. Glove tap to Objectionable Conduct at HLOG for finding the video.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Infamous quotes throughout history
- Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. patent office, 1899
Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?
- H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927
We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.
- Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962
The Toronto Maple Leafs will win the Stanley Cup while I'm still with the team.
- Mats Sundin, 2007
Hat-tip to ACQ
Predictions - too late to change!
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A view from the Pens fans
Our Yoda is already thinking about off-season moves.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
One, two, three. Ah, ha, ha!
Coffin Nails or New Life?
Curse the elderly GM, praise the Swedish skipper, marvel at the kid's skills, and convince yourselves that things are not as bad as they seem in the comments.
Oleg's Second Playoff Shot
He somehow wound up playing with Iginla and Nilson, whacking away at a rebound to put the Flamers back in control of their series. Just the kind of goal we're going to need tonight.
If he can chip in a little and stay out of the box, more power to him. But if he has a rough outing, look for more of the familiar three word tribute to Ottawa's senile general manager filling the BoO comment section.
Playoff Memories VI: Stranglehold
I know there's lots of commentary about the history, but this is a very different hockey team than I had last year, very different.Just how different has yet to be seen. The senators problems generally have not come in the first round (unless they played Toronto or Buffalo) as they generally have faced overmatched opponents. The real test will be how they close out the series. With the way that the other series are shaping up the senators will not want to be the only team involved in a 6/7 game battle. Especially not if any other player is thinking of cutting around the net while Armstrong is on the ice.
For today's flashback we travel to 2001 when the senators travelled to Toronto down 2-0 and trying to work their way back into the series. Unfortunately for them Cory Cross (or Cory F%*#ing Cross as he is known in the Jardine household) had other ideas. The 2 seed senators would go on to be swept two days later.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Playoff Memories V: Dirty By The Book
Don Cherry has long ranted on a number of subjects from the insane (Europeans and visors) to the enlightened (no-touch icing and elbow pads). The latter was finally resolved (much to my surprise) with a league-wide common elbow pad. No-touch icing is apparently for fairies so it will never get fixed despite repeated airings. Sadly, blows to the head seem to be going the same way.
The NHL's problem does not lie in elbows to the head as those are generally caught and punished but with the headshots that masquerade as clean hits. Scott Stevens made a career of such hits and the past season has seen an increase (in coverage at least) of those kinds of hits. They do not break any written rules, the players are not leaving their feet, leading with an elbow, or charging across the ice. However, they still leave a bad taste in your mouth.
That Armstrong hit was delivered with the intent to injure and it is not the first time that he has levelled a similar hit. Erin sums it up best (emphasis mine):
You can claim, a la Don Cherry, that Colby Armstrong had nowhere to go, but that still doesn't justify him flying in low, and bringing his shoulder into Patrick Eaves' head (who was having an above-average series before this, by the way). Fair hits aren't always acceptable hits.
Here is a look back at a fair but unacceptable hit from last season's second round. Oh, and for the 'You want to regulate hitting out of the game! You homo!1!!!1' crowd the Ontario Hockey League has implemented a rule governing blows to the head and you would be hard pressed to call those games ballet on ice.
BoO man of the match
McAmmond had a "Gordie Howe" -- a goal, assist and fight -- capping a night in a series that has taken that mean turn.
"I don't know if he knew he was fighting an old man out there," said McAmmond, whose last NHL fight was almost seven years ago against Stars F Brenden Morrow.
McAmmond could throw them in his junior days, racking up 189 minutes in 1991-92 with Prince Albert of the WHL.
"No one knew Deano could fight like that," said Senators forward Mike Fisher. "He was just toying with him from the start. No one knew if he was a lefty or righty. I still don't know."
We saw his attempt to injure Emery in Saturday's game. They didn't show his head shot to Letowski earlier in the year. Afterwards, when asked about it:
"I don't think I'm a dirty player," Armstrong said.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Department of Obvious Cliches: It's A Whole New Series Now!
Luckily, the scene shifts quickly to the igloo, home of Jean-Claude Van Damme's masterwork Sudden Death. The local media, having been booted from the Sens charter plane, are piling onto the 401 for an epic road trip (better call shotgun - can you imagine being stuck in the back with Garrioch for nine hours?). Perhaps management feared fouling the air with the odor of Team1200 post game shows in the event another sure victory slips away (put in Gerber? are you people sick?).
So, what players are still on notice going in Game 3?:
1. Danny Heatley - needed to be dominant and [cliche]Take His Game To A New Level[/cliche]. The results so far: 1 goal, 2 shots, -1 and a general cloak of invisibility. Your focus has changed having to match up with the Crosby line, but Heater, man, time to grab another gear. The shot percentage is always nice, now why can't you apply that to relieving some of Alfie's ridiculous 13 shot burden?
2. Mike Fisher - Yikes, another 9 shots without a goal (almost tied it up, though). No wonder you're one of the remaining poster boys for wouldacouldashoulda's of playoffs past.
3. Ray Emery - In contrast to MAF, the 3.53 / 0.851 looks nastier than it is. Those weren't all stoppable, but you gotta steal one for us here, Ray.
The Sens are doing a lot of things right. They are still capable of holding the league's top scorer to a goal a game, and of keeping the (likely) top rookie rattled and uncomfortable. They are facing no difficulties walking into the Pittsburgh zone and setting up, rather, it's the power and accuracy of the shots that's killing them. I really don't know how you solve this (shoot less? God Forbid). Again, we could have out these observations and pasted them (with a few names and places swapped out) into a report on any of the last four or five series they've played in. [shrug] It's an Ottawa thing that's going to have to be overcome, I guess. Fear them if it ever happens.
Unless PPP top posts me, consider lines open for predictions, comments, venting, razzing and psychological counseling.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
All Things Old Are New Again
Then the game turned on the mighty play of the irreplaceable Patrick Ea..err well, that's probably what John Muckler expected to happen. Instead, a familiar face came back to haunt the senators as Gary Roberts tied the game once from his office in front of the net and then set up another tying goal with a big bodycheck. Sidney Crosby stole the win with the nicest goal of the game on a slick passing play by Evegeni Malkin and Mark Recchi.
Some other things I noticed:
- Corvo is Ottawa's Ian White. On the offence he looked okay but he has a case of the footsteps on defence. Twice in the third he ran away from contact and coughed up the puck.
- The refs were brutal both ways. They jumped from iron fisted to inept with such jarring frequency. They blew blatant calls on both sides including 2 knees by Schaeffer, a dirty hit from behind by Talbot, and a little punching match between Crosby and Phillips (nice deflection on the first goal).
- Where is Saprykin?
- The crowd, that received much deserved praise after the last game, disappeared when the going got tough. Their heckling of MAF lost some steam when they realized that he was going to make 34 saves.
- Speaking of goalies..4 goals on 21 shots? Is it time to put Gerber in?
The Pens will come out with a much better effort but will Ottawa match it? Will Sidney get on track? Will the crowd get into the game and make it hard on the Pens? Will the sens secondary scoring carry the day again? Will the refs continue their poor performance? How many 5 on 3s will the sens be gifted?
All these questions and more will be answered in about 2.5 hours. Have at it.
Pitter Patter: Sens - Pens Game 2
The Senators look to clutch the elusive 2-0 series lead this afternoon at Scotiabank Place before jetting off to Pittsburgh tomorrow for Game 3. Just how good relative to Wednesday's effort, largely considered to be their best ever defensive performance in either the regular or post season, do the Sens have to be to pull out a win? I'd think if their work in their own end is even 75% of what it was in game one, combined with 10% or 15% more save activity by Emery should bring them the win. With 13 different point scorers on Wednesday, a balanced attack should also bolster the Sens chances.
Penguins will likely come out fast and physical. Gary, Recchi and Sidney were observed shooting the shit during the close of Game 1, either helping the Kid balance out his RRSP portfolio or laying the blueprint for a quick first strike. Fleury will get the start again, his teammates professing more faith in him than in Marty Brodeur.
I think the Pens will score first, but given time, advantageous line matching and a buzzing hometown crowd Fleury will wither under a sustained attack. I'll go with my favourite goat Redden for the GWG as, relieved of his duties of physical play and goalmouth protection by No.'s 4 and 24, he can sneak in the back door to pop in a long rebound from Spezza and Heatley.
The lines are open for pre, during and post-game comments. Have at 'er.
(Great idea Racchz. It's in the bag now.)
Playoff Memories IV: Game 2
Anyway, as has been noted in the comments by AGQ, MAF does not have the best record this year in games after he has been pulled. He is 0-fer-something. But he isn't the only one that will be looking to break a nasty streak. The senators have never won a game 2 when they have been leading 1-0 in games. Sure, some senator apologist will probably mention the number of times that the sens have even been up 1-0 is low (they never got up 1-0 in 2001!) but it still has to be a little troubling for sens nation. It cannot be said enough, the pens were terrible Wednesday night while the sens played almost a perfect game (except for the penalties but then their PK was good). That won't continue. Anyway, here's a flashback to 2002 and a triple OT game. The scorer of the game winning goal might look familiar. Oh an Al Strachan picked the sens to win the cup so expect to lose the next four games in a row.
Karma I Could Do Without Dept.
The subhead reads "Sens will shake demons and return Stanley Cup to its Canadian roots". If you peruse the article further, he actually qualifies himself quite a bit by stating the Sens are the Canadian team that has the best chance of being the Cup winner, it apparently being too hard in today's NHL to pick a clear favorite.
When we last discussed Al's work here, he was of course claiming that the Habs would be tough to beat in the playoffs thanks to their otherworldly special teams.
Friday, April 13, 2007
I got a few looks as I drove through Toronto. Understandable as its been a long time since anyone there has seen one of those flying this time of year.
I also was able to listen to some sports radio other than our Team1200. The FAN590 had less Leaf talk than Hockey Night in Canada did on Wednesday night.
What was really entertaining however was listening to the nuts on 550 AM from Buffalo. Those guys could talk for hours about whether Drury is awesomer than Briere or if Brian Campbell played the greatest game from a defenceman since Orr.
If the Sabres drop a game or two this series I think those announcers are going to be genuinely offended - how dare they disrupt Buffalo's march to the final.
Don't Boo: Chant "Over-rated" Instead
Sid, the poor kid, really got it the other night at Scotiabank Place, where boo-birds were perched on every seat of the building, ready to squawk whenever he had the puck. Even when Crosby scored late in the third period, with victory already well out of sight for Pittsburgh, you might have thought that some Senators fans would have had the decency to cheer his first NHL playoff goal.
The NHL's top scorer this season, with 120 points, and the second best last season, with 102 points, was booed. And booed again when the goal was announced. The game ended 6-3
Yeah, the Art Ross winner awakens late in a critical series-opening blowout and I'm going to jump out of my seat for him. Look, I've got plenty of issues with the selective booing of Sens fans (layoff of Chara already, for heaven's sakes), but I can certainly grasp the principle of the example in question. As aquietgirl explains:
Why the hell would Sens fans cheer a Pittsburgh goal? It could have been scored by say, a quadriplegic cancer survivor and you wouldn't heard a single cheer. Admitted, maybe we wouldn't boo a quadriplegic cancer survivor but why the hell shouldn't we boo Sidney Crosby? He's the heart of the enemy and goddamn it, Adami, maybe Sens fans just want to win more than they want to coddle up to the Golden Boy.
Indeed. Best to leave that to NBC and the league office. Goddamn Adami continues:
Maybe it's a sign that Ottawa has finally joined the ranks of more intense hockey cities like Toronto, where the boos rained down on Bobby Hull and Bobby Orr every time they touched the puck at the old Maple Leaf Gardens. Or New York, where Rangers fans gave it to Ottawa native Denis Potvin when he was leading the Islanders' charge at Madison Square Garden.
It never used to be this way when big Canadian talent visited Ottawa with their teams to play the Senators. Wayne Gretzky was given such a sendoff in April 1999 when he played his last game on Canadian ice at the then-Corel Centre that the Senators forgot about winning the game and the chance of finishing first in the Eastern Conference. They settled for a 2-2 tie, even though Gretzky did remind them at one point during the third period that they should stop the saluting because they had other business to worry about.
In other words, the fans are behaving much like passionate, knowledgeable fans in the league's other top markets would: they acknowledge a class act and a legend on his final ever appearance as appropriate, while displaying none of the "I'm above petty fandom, I just dispassionately remark on the games" affliction of certain TSN columnists. They want their team to win and humiliate a hyped-up opponent if possible. I would think if "true fans", as Adami would have them, were to take him up on his admonishment and applaud milestones or individual efforts by opposing players in big games as one big hockey family, they might as well go the extra mile and leave the uniquely identifying jerseys and car flags at home.
Above: Everytime you boo Sidney, God kills a little penguin chick.
Playoff Hate MK II
There is no cheering for other teams especially rivals. The Playoff Memories Series is, as AGQ surmised and I will readily admit, borne out of bitterness and, I would add, hatred. That is what makes sports so wonderful. While cheering for your team is the majority of your fandom there is also the schadenfreude of seeing your rivals fail. Come playoff time, sometimes that is all you have left (see: Nations, Leaf) but at least it helps you figure out who to support. Jay and I outlined the teams that we would be loathe to see succeed and why but I would be curious to see how everyone else feels.
In other news:
Surrounded and grilled by some journalistic big-hitters yesterday was Anton Volchenkov, who on Wednesday was spectacular in his own solid way. He was asked about shot blocking techniques.No word on whether he replied "In Russia, shot blocks you!"
Playoff Memories III: Friday the 13th
The 2000-2001 senators whitewashed the Leafs during the regular season. They picked up the 2nd seed in the East and relegated the Leafs to 7th. This set up a second straight meeting between the increasingly bitter rivals. In my last year of high school, a group of friends and I donned our colours, painted our faces, and made the trek to the Corel Centre. We took a lot of abuse, were featured on CBC on one of those commercial cutaways, and almost had to fight two drunks that accosted my father. But it was all worth it when we heard that distinctive pinging sound in overtime. This flashback shows why the senators asked the league to avoid scheduling a game tonight. Forget trying to cram Crosby down the US market's throat, the senators are just superstitious. They'll lose on Saturday anyway.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
The article runs down the degree of discomfort of each team. Some of them are too low like Buffalo a 3?! Add in the arrogant fans that made 2005-2006 Stanley Cup Champs videos and their diving and their jackass coach and that makes them about a 14 while others seem to be graded using the wrong standard. Emphasis mine:
That's all pretty accurate but I would have assumed that those traits would make them easier to hate. I think Neate graded them on the pity factor. Easy mistake to make.
Ottawa's degree of discomfort: 1/2. No one, but no one has suffered as a people the way Senators fans have. Please ignore that 14 seasons is only one-sixth as long as the Boston Red Sox fanbase went without a World Series title, or barely one-30th as long as the people of India lived under British colonial rule. We can't have that sort of thing -- what's it called, perspective? -- here.
Ottawa has the Bestest Hockey Team Ever, until they lose two in a row -- or don't win convincingly enough. Then they have the Worstest Team Ever and it's time to see if "we" can see if there's a team in the Finnish Elite League who would be willing to take Jason Spezza for a used bag of pucks and an extra set of goalie equipment.Worst of all, the forelock-tugging, Leaf-lambasting, we're-good-too, please-notice-us routine has become tiresome. It's the same old gag. The Sens rip through the regular season, do their annual spring revue of The Dying Swan In Padded Shorts, and everyone who kept insisting it all along wouldn't happen again says, "I knew it all along." Sure you did, pal.
Good luck on getting a refund on that replica sweater you had customized to say "LEAF SUX SINCE 67" where the name and number usually go.The irony is many sens fans are blinkered when it comes to realizing the rest of Canada would like to be in their corner if they weren't such a bunch of wankoffs (PPP's Note: As always, there are exceptions to every rule so if you think it applies to you it doesn't. Unless you've never been here and then it probably does). Besides, you can never get tired of hearing Lyndon Slewidge perform O Canada deep into spring.
Playoff Memories II: 2002 2nd Round
All kidding aside, the sens were definitely full value for their victory as they did not allow the Penguins to settle down throughout the game. Which brings me to the second installment of my as yet undetermined number of parts series on the senators playoff history. senator fans will remember the first game of the 2002 2nd round series fondly. After two straight exits at the hands of their provincial rivals they came out in a similar fashion to tonight and completely dominated the Leafs. The following highlights produced some of the same feelings as tonight's game but as you all probably remember, things did not end as well as they started. Keep that in mind as you prepare for the second game of this series which will feature a Penguins team that could not play any worse in this series and a senators team that would be hard pressed to play any better. Enjoy the trip down memory lane.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Tale of Tape
|Total Blocked Shots||1240||1088|
|Total Goals Against||222||246|
|Total Goals For||288||277|
These are only looking at the 19 starters today.
The only way you can get rid (of the reputation) is by showing up and winning," said centre Giggles [Jason Spezza]. "We are a different team than maybe the teams in the past that got beaten by the Leafs. There are not too many guys left in the room that were around then and those guys who are still here are here for a reason: They're good character guys.Who, exactly, is still left from those great BoOs? And what impact did they have on the team then? What have they done lately?
Well I did a little investigative work and found some answers. Of the sens roster (as per NHL.com) there are at least 9 players (or almost half for those gigglers among the readership) that have felt the ulcer-inducing agony of being eliminated at the hands of the senators' hated rivals. The following stats include games played in other series in 2001-2002 since it was actually a second round matchup. To account for that just assume that most of the points were accumulated in the non-Toronto series. Without further ado, your nine remaining 'character guys':
Daniel Alfreddson - 29GP 10-11-21 +6 in 4 career Leaf exits- On the surface that does not look too bad until you realize that 13 of those points came in the 2002 playoffs . Highlight of last year's playoffs: best seat in the house for the Pominville goal.
Mike Fisher - 21 GP 3-2-5 +3 in 3 career Leaf exits - Still young during those series but showed that the stench of defeat hung on his body last year as his 48 regular season points in 68 games translated into a meek 2-2-4 in 10 GP.
Chris Neil - 19 GP 0-1-1 -1 in 2 career Leaf exits - Not surprisingly, he was a non-entity in those series. Domi put up more points. He is expected to help set the physical tone of the series and probably would have done a good job with Roberts as his running mate. Who is Roberts? He'll be the guy that turns your defencemen into quivering masses of jelly every time they hear his striding into the zone. My guess he also outscores the irreplaceable Patrick Eaves.
Chris Phillips - 26Gp 2-1-3 +3 in 4 career Leaf exits - Fresh of signing a brand new 4-year $3.5M/year contract he wil be expected to provide the sort of defence that Wade Redden has not provided all year. Last year he contributed 2 goals and a -2 rating to the cause in 9 games but at least he wasn't on the ice for Pominville's goal.
Wade Redden - 23 GP 4-2-6 -4 in 3 career Leaf exits - This defensive rock was part of the amazing leadership/character duo that tried the famed dual pokecheck on Pominville's goal (look for it in a future Playoff Memories installment). Despite contributing 2-8-10 in 9 games last year he still managed to be a -2. My guess is that most of those points came against the overmatched Lightning. Expect to see figures similar to that -4 in this series along with a lot of shying away from Roberts.
The Babies (Shaeffer, Vermette, Volchenkov, Spezza) - 19GP 0-3-3 -2 in 1 career Leaf exit - The latter three were barely out of diapers for the 2004 series against the Leafs but they did get to see the game 7 loss up close and surely osmosis will take care of passing on the legacy of the other Leaf losses. Spezza put up a good account of himself, on the surface, last year with 5-9-14 in 10 GP. Unfortunately, if you look a little deeper you can see that 2-8-10 of those came in the Lightning series before Giggles disappeared against the Sabres.
Ray Emery - No career playoff exits - I added the tender to the list because I remembered an interesting stat from last year's round against the Sabres that showed that Rayzor was far from sharp in the extra period. In a series that saw all 5 games decided by 1 goal (there's that stigma again) with 3 going to an extra frame Emery stopped 1 of 4 shots combined in the three OT losses. He went 0-1, 1-2, 0-1 with the game on the line. Be sure to think of that stat if any game in this series happens to move towards the extra period.Those are the character guys that remain from the losses against the Leafs. That must make sens fans feel super confident if confident means that you will be counting down the games until these guys shut up shop and disappear.
Playoff Memories I: 1997 1st Round
It starts now!
I love this.
"That defensive squad you know...I really start to believe their goals is to be the worst defensive squad in the league and they're doing a good job at it. "
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Digression: Playoff Adverts and Maintaining Sanity
Our bodies are under tremendous assault in the playoffs. The anxiety, panic, nausea, alternating appetites for stimulants and depressants and explosive emoting all combine to wear and tear on valuable internal organs. The game action itself is bad enough. During breaks in the play, our senses are subject to repetitive bombardment by the latest Playoff Edition ad campaigns, straining our brain's resistance to insanity past its elastic yield point.
We all remember last year's Perv Wearing Chair Costume thanks to the mensas at Molson (or was it Bud?) and the fingernails-down-the-chalkboard introduction of those cursed Bell Beavers during the Winter Olympics. The jingles are as burned into the dark depths of my subconscious as Emery giving up the first shot in game five, Joe Nieuwendyk's short side floaters or Tugnutt's trapper failure. Here are my top five running candidates for TV time-out psychic terrorism come Wednesday evening:
5) The Renewable Fuels Association Lobbyist
If ever I were inclined to fashion a Conan battle-axe and cleave somebody's skull with it, I'd have to say this guy would fit the bill.
4) That Quirky Lady Who's In All The Canadian Commercials Ever
Westjet, tea, home renos, backing up over motorcycles, where does she find the time to produce such ubiquity?
3) The Creaky, Mind-Reading Signs at Canadian Tire
Are all of you Ted Simonett haters happy now with what you have wrought upon the earth?
2) The Pasty Moores Giant Hitting His Head on the Shower Rod
I just want to yell "watch out" before he crashes into the overhead projector for the umpteenth time.
1) Anything featuring Sid the Kid. Whether quaffing Gatorade, posing as an adorable little timbit or fuming over an Ovechkin room service gag, we are going to see more of his pouty face on and off the ice than can possibly be considered healthy.
An honourable mention goes to the clapping onlookers from the Kia Rondo commerical. This bit often plays right after one of the Sens takes a stupid penalty and follows up in a manner reminiscent of the Sarcastic Clapping Family of Southampton.
Round 1 Prediction Contest
You pick Buffalo to win 4 games to 1. The Isle actually upset them in 7 games so your score would be 4 as you were 1 game off on the Sabres and 3 games off on the Isle.
The worst score you can get in a series is 8 and the best is, of course, 0 if you get it right.
Put your predictions in the comments or mail them to me (address on the sidebar).
Taking predictions until 7pm tomorrow.
Sources say Phillips deal to be announced today.
What To Do?
The larger, and more pertinent to this site, question is what do Muppet and I do during the playoffs? Well, probably the same thing that Don and Jay will do after the first round, general playoff thoughts, hoping that the Sabres do not win the Cup, that sort of thing. Until we are joined by our Ottawa brethren our job will be to counteract Don and Jay's sunny belief that the sens might win Lord Stanley's Mug. And just to keep the comebacks witty and relevant, yes, we both know the Leafs are not in the playoffs.
Playoff tip # 1: In their miraculous 9 year consecutive playoff appearance streak the sens have made the conference final once where they lost game 7 at home. In 12 post-seasons Bryan 'The Lisp' Murray has never made it past the second round. When Gary Roberts is scoring his 3rd game winning goal of the series to clinch it for the Penguins I am sure that that stat will find it's way back into your mind.
Monday, April 09, 2007
Mid-'Season' Report card
Result of review: Move onto post-season.
Now to the grades for the different players/admin....
Note: Sorted by salary which is taken into consideration.
Forwards: As a group they receive a B+
Heatley, Dany A 50 goals for 2nd in the league, 4th in the league in points, carried the team when injuries hit prior to the all-star game, contract up after next year will be a major discussion point going into next fall
Spezza, Jason A Actually 5th in the league in points per game and goes into the post season the number one concern for opposition defences who in stopping Heatley basically have to stop Spezza first. His giveaways went from 93 last year to 63 this year (same gms played). Like Heatley, contract up after next year will be a major discussion point going into next fall
Alfredsson, Daniel A Another solid year from Alfie despite a slow start. I don't think he was healthy at the start as he seemed slow. 2nd in the league in +/-, adjusted to life on the first or second line depending on matchups and the play of other players around him.
Note: The cliche is that your best players have to be your best players and the Sens season backs this up. What they didn't get is improved years from the next set of players.
Schaefer, Peter C A set-back year after signing a long term contract last summer. He went from 5 to 15 to 20 goals the previous three years and fell back to 12 this one.
Comrie, Mike B Has supplied some timely goals. A positive pickup by Muckler.
Fisher, Mike B The fan favourite matched last years offensive output but failed to grab the 2nd line center spot with Alfredsson early in the year that the team had hoped for even though those two with Scheafer have turned into a nicely balanced line that can be put out against the other teams top units. Another one of the key Sens going into the final year of his contract.
Neil, Christopher B A nice season for Neil. Started the year as one of the few Sens playing better than expected but quieter in the 2nd half.
Vermette, Antoine C Given every opportunity to grab a spot on a top line, Vermette played himself to the 3rd line again. Worst +/- amongst forwards.
Eaves, Patrick C Ditto. 2nd worst +/- amongst forwards.
Kelly, Chris B Did was was expected. Played everywhere on the team.
McAmmond, Dean B Great FA signing. Provided great speed on the top line at times as well as consistent presence on the 4th line.
McGrattan, Brian B Failed to improve on his 2 goal breakthrough last season.
Schubert, Christopher A Very good season for Schubert. Would love to see him fulltime on the backend next year.
Defence: As a group they receive a B-
Redden, Wade C The 6.5 million dollar man fought through injuries and had a subpar season. The team struggled without him as you'd expect but he didn't make his presence felt when he was in the lineup.
Corvo, Joseph D Terrible in the first half. Has picked it up lately though and has gotten back on the PP as a result.
Phillips, Chris A Solid, consistent year.
Volchenkov, Anton A Hey, he made the Monster of the year list.
Meszaros, Andrej D You go froma +34 to -15? Sophmore jinx in the dictionary...
Preissing, Tom A On the other hand, +40? A very quiet season (20 hits all season) but seems to always have the angle.
Goalies: As a group they receive a B+ on the back of Emery
Gerber, Martin C Brutal start and lost a starting ride. Has played better in the second half stopping a slide to an F grade.
Emery, Ray A Exceeded all expectations and grabbed the starting role by his play as much as Gerber's failures.
Admin: As a group they receive a B-
John Muckler C Signings of Gerber and Corvo might handcuff team next year. Comrie deal under-rated. McAmmond a nice pick-up. I would have made the same decision on the Roberts trade.
Bryan Murray B He finally realized Gerber wasn't going to turn it around. His handling of the lines are still all over the place but this year it seems with a purpose.
Muckler on the Team
"I think people underestimate the grit we have here..."
He tried to answer the final question of whether the Senators were mentally tough enough this year, and ended up rambling on through the bumper music.
Volchenkov signs three year deal
UPDATE: Volchenkov will get $2.1 million next season, $2.2 million in 2008-09 and $3.2 million in 2009-10.
Go Vote Sens fans!
Series D - #4 Ottawa vs. #5 Pittsburgh
Date Time (ET) Location Network
Wed., April 11 7:00 p.m. at Ottawa CBC, RDS, VERSUS
Sat., April 14 3:00 p.m. at Ottawa CBC, RDS, NBC
Sun., April 15 6:00 p.m. at Pittsburgh VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Tue., April 17 7:00 p.m. at Pittsburgh VERSUS, CBC, RDS
*Thu., April 19 7:00 p.m. at Ottawa CBC, RDS, VERSUS
*Sun., April 22 1:00 p.m. at Pittsburgh NBC, CBC, RDS
*Tue., April 24 7:00 p.m. at Ottawa VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Dedicated to Leaf Nation...
This is the end
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again
Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need...of some...stranger's hand
In a...desperate land
Lost in a roman...wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane
Waiting for the summer rain, yeah
There's danger on the edge of town
Ride the king's highway, baby
Weird scenes inside the gold mine
Ride the highway west, baby
Ride the snake, ride the snake
To the lake, the ancient lake, baby
The snake is long, seven miles
Ride the snake...he's old, and his skin is cold
The west is the best
The west is the best
Get here, and we'll do the rest
The blue bus is callin' us
The blue bus is callin' us
Driver, where you taken' us
The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
He took a face from the ancient gallery
And he walked on down the hall
He went into the room where his sister lived, and...then he
Paid a visit to his brother, and then he
He walked on down the hall, and
And he came to a door...and he looked inside
Father, yes son, I want to kill you
Mother...i want to...f**k you
C'mon baby, take a chance with us
C'mon baby, take a chance with us
C'mon baby, take a chance with us
And meet me at the back of the blue bus
Doin' a blue rock
On a blue bus
Doin' a blue rock
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill
This is the end
This is the end
My only friend, the end
It hurts to set you free
But you'll never follow me
The end of laughter and soft lies
The end of nights we tried to die
This is the end